My 40th is quite a surprise

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Well, well, well. Kudos to June! For the last several months she has been secretly stealing addresses from the email messages I copied her on and remailing invitations to a surprise 40th birthday party for me. She reserved the room, ordered the food, developed a ruse, and sprung it on me one recent Saturday night. Boy, was I blown away. There were even some surprises after the party! Eventually we got off to Paris for a vacation.

We had this bash at The Palace restaurant in downtown Sunnyvale. In olden times The Palace was a regular movie theater. In more recent bad days it was an adult film, triple-x theater. Now it's been redecorated with a heavy handed red-gold art deco interior. The seating area has been flattened into tiers. The lowest replaces the screen and is now a dance floor. The third holds the bar. The balcony above the candy counter is more seating, and the projection booth is a private party room; this is where we hang for the night.

June managed to get me there on the ruse of meeting a friend for a drink on the way to another party. I'm along for the ride but keep asking questions that get her antsy and animated, so I decide to just relax. When we enter The Palace I want to look for Joe at the first bar, but June takes my hand and in a manic fit pulls me up the stairs to the projection booth. "HE'S UP HERE, COME ON!" she cries. It's a whirlwind for me as we climb the stairs; I'm sure we'll come back looking for Joe later.

When we at last enter the converted projection booth, the first face I see is Steve Mac. Well, I think, that's good, I haven't seen Steve in a while. I'm surprised he's here, but he and Patti might come to a place like this. Man, it's so noisy in this room; people are shouting, and it's packed. In some confusion, I look around and see my parents standing on the far side of the room. Now I know they don't belong here. Suddenly my brain locks into the situation like an errant Blue Angel getting back into formation. Oh shit, they're yelling "surprise!" My god. I look to June, and she's now a relaxed bundle of smiles. This is a surprise party for me. Wow.

This was a great night. So many of my friends from so many different parts of my life all together in one room. I feel a little uncomfortable flitting from one group to another. I just don't feel like I get a chance to have a significant conversation with anyone. This must be how the bride feels at her own wedding. It's great to talk with each person, but too often I find myself saying, "well, I need to go say hello over there too. I'm so glad you came." Makes me feel like an insurance salesman or a politician. Yet, everyone seems to have a good time. The food is fantastic, and I so like having a party.

Thanks to all of you who came and yet managed to keep it a secret from me. I used to think it was hard to surprise me; I'm going to have to re-think that. And thanks so much to June for a tremendous celebration. I can't wait to top it off in Paris next month.